Monday, June 30, 2014

seven years

Seven years ago today, we made our vows. That means that we've concluded seven whole years of marriage. Seven years of matrimony doesn't seem that impressive when you consider that lots of people have been married, like...forty years. But since I'm not even forty years old, I don't consider that to be an obtainable goal for myself. Seven years is good.

Seven years is as long as it took me to get through middle and high school.

(Seven years of marriage has definitely been better than middle and high school, which is saying something. I loved middle and high school, bless my heart.)

I tried to think of other significant things that happen in sevens, but I'm coming up mostly blank. All I can think of is the Harry Potter books (shocking, I know), which happen to be seven volumes covering seven years. And although I'm still 100 pages from the end of Book 7 right now (which means it's a damn MIRACLE that I'm blogging and not reading, okay?) and don't yet know how it ends, I have heard that the ending will supposedly be satisfying. Everyone tells me that my mind will be blown, that all of the pieces will fall into place, that the details and mysteries of the first six years all prove to have been intentional, to serve a purpose, and to come together into a conclusion that is meaningful and satisfying. I can't wait to see what happens, and I'm savoring every paragraph as I quickly make my way to the end.

And although our marriage is nowhere near its end, I'd like to think that you can look at it kind of the same way. These seven years haven't always been easy. Like a brilliant book series, there have been rises and falls, mysteries solved while other mysteries remain, laughter and tears, heartache and unfinished business. I have no idea, most of the time, where the story is going next- I can only enjoy (or endure) where it is at the time. But even during the hardest chapters, the ones where you're sobbing and angry and not sure where the story goes from keep going, trusting that the author knows what they're doing. 

I trust that the Author knows where we're going. And that the story will be good.

Our seventh year of marriage didn't play out quite how we'd hoped. There were a lot more sad chapters than I would have chosen. But there were a lot of good things, too. Adventures. Happiness. Moments of bliss and peace. One day, maybe, we'll look back and say Year Seven was awesome. It was crazy at the time, but later, when you look all made sense. Because I think that the Author knows what he's doing here. Nothing is by chance.

I am incredibly thankful for Mattie, my partner in adventure and misery and whatever else life throws at us. I love almost everything about him (an exception being made for this one really abnormal nose hair he has that grows at like six times the rate of any other nose hair...I do not love that, nor do I love when Matt tortures me by pretending he's going to touch me with it) and love that he loves (or at least tolerates) almost everything about me. There is no one else I would rather do life with. 

Happy Anniversary, Mattie. Since you started reading my blog semi-regularly at some point during our seventh year of marriage, there's actually a chance you may see this someday. Thanks for letting me express my love for you by constantly torturing and pranking you, and thanks for still never laughing at my jokes. I can't imagine the self-control that that requires- I stand in awe. Thanks for always wanting to be twinsies with me and getting as excited about stupid stuff as I do. As always, I hope that the next year of our marriage is the best one yet-- but by now, I've lived and learned enough to know that even if it isn''ll still be pretty good, and it will definitely be worth it. I love you!

More Overly Verbose Anniversary Meditations:

Friday, June 27, 2014

a not-particularly-blogworthy week, apparently

This week...whew.

It's been such a whirlwind at work that I'm hard pressed to remember anything else that's happened. Luckily Monday and Tuesday were the worst of it and the days since then have been busy but not miserable...but still. I'm extremely glad it's Friday.

I have managed to squeeze in a few other (mostly uninteresting) things this week.

1. I took two really hard classes at the gym. I've been patting myself on the back for that, cause both times were instances where I'd really much rather just phone it in on an elliptical while zoning out to HGTV for half an hour...but instead, decided to take a really challenging class instead. I think that I deserve to lose 10 pounds automatically just for that, right? Right.

2. We've found, test driven (twice), and contemplated purchasing a new (to us) vehicle.

Why yes I do have a gift for photography, thank you for noticing.
A Honda Pilot (or, you know, anything bigger than our current compact cars) would mean that once the baby comes, we wouldn't have to take multiple vehicles in order to transport two adults, a baby + carseat, a crazed Lab, and all the stuff that all of those people/animals require. It's a very tempting thought. But it's also a very tempting thought to cling fast to all the dollars we can, knowing that we have an adoption and maternity leave to fund in the very near future. Choices, choices.

3. I had the Shaken Iced Blackberry Mojito Tea Lemonade (wow, that's a mouthful) at Starbucks yesterday. It was delightful...almost like drinking a real mojito in the middle of the workday, only not quite. I will warn you, though, that if you're not a huge fan of mint in your drinks...don't get it. The minty-ness is not subtle.

4. I paused my sprint through the Harry Potter series in order to read my book for book club this weekend. We're discussing The Program by Suzanne Young. It was a really quick read. Very YA, very angsty, but I still really enjoyed it. Actually it made me feel stressed and sad...but still, a good read. I was a little confused about where the story was going, but by the time I got to Part 3, I was on board. I would say that if you could find this at your library or on Kindle for less than about $3, it'd be worth it. (Don't worry. Ten minutes after finishing The Program last night, I plunged into Book 6!!)

I've been staring at the blinking cursor for at least 5 minutes now, so I guess it's safe to say I can't think of anything else noteworthy that happened this week. I'm looking forward to a weekend of peace and quiet and reading. You know, the kind of thing that will make for some really thrilling blogging next week...ha. I'm not really setting myself up for success here, am I? Oh well.

Have a happy weekend!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

weekday redemption

It's been an insanely busy and stressful week at work. I mean, halfway through Monday I caught myself thinking there aren't enough lemurs in the world to make this worth it, so you KNOW things musta been rough. Luckily, it's a temporary situation, so all will go back to normal when this week is over...but it's definitely a week where you leave each day looking glassy-eyed, shell-shocked, and mumbling incoherently. So when 5:00 rolled around yesterday and it looked like Matt was going to be stuck at work until at least 6:00 or maybe even 7:00...yeah. I wasn't jazzed at the prospect. Since we carpool to work, that meant I was stuck, too. And on a week like this...I just couldn't bear to sit in my office a minute longer than I had to.

I had my book (HP Book 5!) with me, but I couldn't think of where I wanted to sit to read it. We work in downtown Athens, so there's no shortage of possibilities. Starbucks? Possibly. Brewery across the street? Tempting. A bench by the fountain on campus? Hmmm.


Sit in a massage chair while someone massages my legs and paints my toes?? DING DING DING!!! We have a winner!!

I love a pedicure as much as the next person, but due to budgetary constraints, they aren't exactly a regular event in my life. And upon further reflection, I'm pretty sure I've never gone to get my nails done on a day that isn't Saturday. Maybe a few Fridays for wedding-related pedicures. But mainly weekends. Going on a regular ol' Tuesday night seemed like it could be risky- are they even open? Do you need an appointment? What's the Weekday Pedicure Protocol? 

If you've never experienced a weekday pedicure, let me be the first to tell you: DO IT. It's just like a Saturday pedicure except a MILLION TIMES BETTER.

The place was practically empty. There were plenty of workers. And since there wasn't a line of people impatiently waiting for their turn, the workers weren't rushed in the least. Holy cow. It was magical. The girl did an awesome job and took her sweeeeeet time. Like...probably 10-15 minutes of dedicated massaging per leg. Extra attention to detail. I don't even know what to say except that it was fabulous. The water was perfectly hot. The chair was perfectly massagey. 

I guess that normally I (and the workers) feel the pressure of the weekend crowd waiting. But not on Tuesday at 5:30. I think my whole life has been changed. After-work pedis are the only way to go now. Plus, I think I appreciated it more, you know? I mean, Saturdays are already great. A pedicure can make it even greater, but's Saturday. But a Tuesday? Tuesdays are forgettable, at best. So an amazing pedicure on a Tuesday is like...redemption. Hallelujah. 

I feel dumb for being so excited about a stupid pedicure, but seriously. Matt can attest- I haven't stopped talking about how great it was, and now I can't stop typing. I'm sinking to new lows, but oh well. The moral of this story is that if you have a stressful day and it also happens to be a weekday, you should go get a pedicure immediately. It could change everything.

I finished Book 5 last night! I'm still really loving the series. Mostly I'm loving that now I can catch up on all the pop culture references I've been missing over the last decade or so. Ha. So if I make tons of references and bad jokes that are totally passe...just nod and smile and remember that I'm new to the HP fan club. I spent some time in the shower last night thinking about what figure my Patronus would take. It didn't take long to figure out: a manatee. Obviously. What dementor wouldn't be terrified by a giant silver manatee floating towards them? I feel like I can sleep better at night now, just knowing that (if I were magical) a manatee-on-demand can protect me. Whew.

Monday, June 23, 2014

weekend of the hibiscus

We kicked off the weekend by sharing some pretty exciting news. That was fun (slash terrifying)...and the rest of the weekend didn't disappoint, either.

In the space of a few days, all three of my hibiscus (hibiscuses? hibisci?) have BURST into bloom. I'm telling you, people. If you want a lot of gorgeous bang for your buck (and your climate supports them), get yourself a hibiscus or 10. 

I've forgotten the name of the variety of these two, but I love them. This is our third year with them. The blooms are HUGE and prolific. They only last about a day each (you can see the wilted ones that I haven't pinched off yet), but since there are so many, the net effect is that it is always beautiful once it starts blooming! And I'm serious, those blooms are roughly the size of a dinner plate.

This one is a Texas Star hibiscus- we planted it late last season, so this is the first time we've seen it bloom. The foliage is MUCH more sparse (and also got eaten UP by something...look at those poor leaves!!), but that doesn't seem to have bothered the blooms much! This morning was the first time we've seen the flowers- they're bright red and just lovely!!

On Saturday we embarked on a new adventure: stand up paddle boarding (apparently known as SUP to the cool kids who know what's up...wassup...HAHAHA I AM HILARIOUS). I'd been under the impression that this was a sport that only took place in oceans, and since Athens is short on oceans, I'd never considered giving it a try. A few weeks ago, though, some coworkers informed me that you can rent SUPs at a local lake/park (and by lake I mean "lake"...aka a glorified pond). I'm a big fan of any activity that can combine fun, exercise, the water, and getting tan.

We got to the park and signed up for our SUPs, but our reservation wouldn't be for another hour and a half. We decided to kill the time by taking a hike. This park has miles of shaded lakeside trails, so it was relatively comfortable conditions. I mean, we still sweated through our clothes in 4 minutes flat, but at least there wasn't direct sunlight blazing on us.

Three and a half miles of walking later, it was time to hit the lake. We had a quick tutorial on how to SUP and then we were on our way! It was surprisingly windy on the "lake," so we got quite the arm and back and core workout. It was really fun, but harder than I'd anticipated. I really don't know how you can do that in an ocean with waves!! The tiny "waves" created by canoes and fishing boats and wind were challenging enough! 

Despite the wind and water lapping on our feet, we still got super hot and sweaty. We stopped for a break to jump in the lake (RHYME!!!) and prove how brave we are. A lesser person would not risk their health in that water, I tell you...but I've already had giardia once (the best souvenir I got in Guatemala!! not...) and lived to tell the tale, so I think I'm pretty much invincible. And if you click on that link, I pity you. And I hope you're not eating right now.

Anyway, after jumping in, we decided to take our SUPing to the next level and do some yoga on our boards. We saw a class doing it...why not us? Sure, they had anchors for their SUPs and we didn't, but...I mean, we're really awesome at yoga because we've taken like 3 classes. Ha. We basically both 'mastered' a plank and a downward-facing dog and then cracked up at how dumb we looked and went back to just chilling. But it was pretty funny.

We paddled back and called our first SUP adventure a success. Then we hit the pool for the rest of the day, because after all that exercise...we really needed it.

It was a pretty great weekend and this week looks to be INSANE work-wise, so...I'm already ready for it to be next weekend. Yay.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

chosen, again.

I don't usually post on Saturdays, but some things merit breaking tradition.

We've been chosen again. In a few short weeks, Matt and I will be parents.

It sounds nice to say it like that, with all the confidence in the world, but you know that isn't how it feels. The crushing disappointment of November is still pretty fresh on my mind, so when I say "we will be parents," what I mean is that we are desperately hopeful that if all goes well, we'll have that chance. That it looks like we'll definitely be in the hospital soon, witnessing the birth of a baby...and maybe, just maybe, we'll get to be her parents forever.

We are overwhelmed with joy and hope and fear, all at once. 

When we told our families, they responded with the mixture of cautionary excitement and dread that we had expected. I just...I don't know if I'm ready to go through that (and by 'that,' she means November) again, my mom tearfully admitted. And I felt and feel the same way. I can't imagine anything more excruciating than losing another baby. And yet I am willing to take the risk again, because this story could end differently. I don't know if I'm "ready," I highly doubt I'm "strong enough"...but I know that if we had said no to this opportunity, there is a 100% chance we would still be childless in August. So we kicked our fear to the curb and said yes

And maybe we will be parents in August.

I wish I could tell you all about J, the expectant mom who chose us. We love her. We've met with her and her family several times over the past months and are overwhelmed with how positive and committed they are to supporting her and us in this situation. We look forward to being in relationship with them for the long term, a team committed to doing what is best for this baby.

Unlike last time, we kept quiet about this for a long time. Honestly, until yesterday, when I told my co-workers, almost nobody outside of our families knew. I thought it would be harder than it was. It was surprisingly freeing, though, and kind of nice. After all, most couples have the luxury of not spreading their news for a number of weeks or felt almost normal to keep quiet. Because people tend to not really know how to react when we tell them anyway, it wasn't too tempting to run around sharing freely. And because no one knew, it's been easy to sort of guard my heart and emotions. I've been surprisingly un-weepy. Objective, even. We are preparing for a baby, but we know it might not happen. We knew last time, too, and tried to prepare accordingly...but this time, we really know. And somehow that's made it easier to plan and think about the next few months. We hope to bring home a forever baby in August. But if we don't, we will survive again. 

I don't want to sound all doom and gloom and like I'm only preparing for the worst. That couldn't be further from the truth. The truth is that we are over the moon, we talk about her all the time, we have bought more adorable onesies than you can count, we have almost decided on her name. We text frequently with J and she lets us know that the baby likes to party all night long. We're ready. We finally got a glider, so bring on the late night parties. The baby also really likes being in the pool. Excellent. She'll fit right in here.

We are humbled and grateful for this opportunity. Choosing a family to raise your child must be the most difficult decision a person could make, and we don't take it lightly that they chose us. We hope and pray that no matter how this ends, whether with us bringing home a baby and loving her until she's old and gray, or J choosing to parent and love her herself, that this child will grow up knowing love, knowing that her life is infinitely valuable, and that this situation will be somehow redemptive for all of us involved. 

Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. (Lam. 3:21-23)

Friday, June 20, 2014


Whew. It's been a wild week. Well, okay, it hasn't. But it's a wild week in the world of Harry Potter, and since reading that is all I've been doing in my spare time, I feel like my week has been crazy. People trying to kill me and battling evil and all...takes a lot out of a girl. 

On NPR this morning they were talking about the new section of the Harry Potter theme park in Orlando that is opening soon (Diagon Alley). Anyone ever been to the HP theme park? Just curious if there are actually things to DO, or just places to SHOP. I mean, I'm sure I need a cape and a wand as much as the next Muggle, but if I'm going to drop $100 for a ticket to a theme park, I want to get some roller coasters in, too. non-Harry Potter about a Currently check-in?

Currently, I am... Neon Steeple, David Crowder's new CD. Amanda gifted me with this this week and I am loving it!

Eating...nothing, but I just finished breakfast. And this reminds me that I never gushed about the no-bake energy bites that I made last weekend! They were freaking delicious and now they are gone. VERY SAD. But I've been trying to re-create the flavor with my morning peanut butter toast. I've been topping the peanut butter (creamy, I'm no freak) with some honey and a liberal sprinkle of flaxseed meal and YUM. Breakfast has never been better! (Except when there's bacon, obviously.) from home. Starbucks Colombian blend, stevia, and almond milk.

Wearing...the shorts that used to be deemed questionable but are now a wardrobe staple. And a coral sleeveless top. Basically, the bare minimum of fabric that is still considered's freaking hot outside.

Feeling...excited and nervous. More on that later.

Weather...FREAKING HOT. High of 95 today and at 6:30 this morning when I checked my weather app, it was already 90% humidity. So like...yay, Georgia. wave my wand and have this work day be over so that I can lay by a pool and read HP.

Needing...a lot of patience and wisdom.

Thinking...about our vacation in a few weeks! We're not going far or doing anything too fancy, but I'm looking forward to a few days away to be lazy and play in the ocean. yard and flowers this summer. New things are blooming every day and I love just exploring and appreciating all the prettiness every evening and morning!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

silas the lemur

Yesterday I cuddled with a real live lemur.

It was probably one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

The lemur's name was Silas. This picture isn't Silas, it's whatever I found on Wikipedia, but it looks just like him. Only Silas was only about six months old, so he was smaller and more adorable. Don't worry, I have plenty of pictures of Silas and I's just that they're extremely blurry because LEMURS ARE EXTREMELY SPASTIC AND FAST.

It was Staff Fun Day at work. You may recall that back in March, we did some amazing pottery for SFD. This month we brought in a zoo. It's one of those hands on traveling zoo programs that normally visit elementary schools and summer camps...but one of the bosses here was absolutely dying to bring them in for us. I was skeptical at first. I was proven wrong.

I CUDDLED WITH A LEMUR. That's enough to change any stoic's heart.

There were lots of other animals, too- a baby kangaroo!! A spotted Asian baby deer! Some weird large rodenty thing! A (tiny) alligator! A constrictor! All of those things I also petted, although I did not cuddle with them. There was also some butt-ugly horn-beaked tropical bird thing that looked like a dead vulture. It was not cute and I backed up about twenty feet when it was 'petting time' because oh hell no I am not insane. That thing had CRAZY ATTACK BIRD written all over it.

Anyways. Then there was Silas the Lemur. Arguably the greatest animal on earth. I actually have been feeling really guilty ever since meeting Silas...doubting my devotion to my previous Favorite Animals (manatees and Lola, of course). But seriously. LOOK HOW CUTE HE IS!!!!

He was maybe the size of a smallish house cat. He was softer than those velvety blankets you give babies. He was as hyper and spastic as a two-year-old who drank a liter of Mountain Dew. He crawled all over me, tickling me with his tiny little monkey hands- they have fingernails, not claws, and they're short (like human nails...well, humans who keep their nails short), so they don't scratch you when they crawl on you. And their paws (hands/feet?) are really soft, too, like they have butter leather gloves on or something? It's really bizarre. I expected the paws to feel more like those of a declawed cat or something (kind of scratchy due to the pads?)...but it really felt like itty bitty leather gloved human hands. Totally crazy.

Silas perched on my shoulder and nibbled on my ear and earrings for a minute. It didn't hurt, but as you can see from the blurry was just SO precious and hilarious, I was squirming around like a crazy person.

Silas's keeper kept him on a leash because he is REALLY fast and a REALLY good climber/jumper...he kept eyeing the shiny chandeliers in the room we were in. It's safe to guess that if he hadn't stayed leashed, we may have spent the rest of our Fun Day trying to capture him from the chandeliers. Which would have been fun...but not as fun as having him jump all over us.

So in conclusion, if you ever have the opportunity to cuddle with a lemur, DO IT. I'd go so far as to say you should try to make an opportunity to cuddle with one. Let it be your new life goal. It's kind of like a cross between a monkey, kitten, puppy, panda, and toddler human. In other words, the best thing ever.

PS. Requisite HP Status Update: I'm currently about halfway through Goblet of Fire (Book 4) and it is SO good!! The Quidditch World Cup was one of my favorite scenes/stories so far, particularly all the parts about interactions with Muggles, the anti-Muggle security systems, trying to camp with no magic, and all that. SO funny!

Monday, June 16, 2014

another weekend of reading, sunning, and flowers.

Seriously. Monday again?

I brought myself a bouquet of flowers to work today. I'm hoping this will somehow bring me zen and peace all week long...??? And/or trick me into thinking I'm actually at home in my garden and not stuck in an office...???
Zinnias and lavender make a very fast and pretty bouquet!
It was a lovely weekend. There were lots of soccer games to be watched by the folks that care about such things, which meant I had plenty of time left to my own devices. Any guesses as to how I spend my free time in the summer?

Not shocking.

So I'm almost done with Book 3, and I am looooovvvviiiinnnnggggg the series. I never really doubted that I'd like them, but it's still nice to find myself enjoying every minute of reading instead of grudgingly getting through it just to please my friends. :) Plus, pool time? Books + pool = Erika's personal nirvana.

Based on Saturday morning (okay, early afternoon) attendance, it appears that everyone at the gym has given up on their fitness goals for the summer. I say that as thought I'm any different. The fact is, if and when I drag myself to the gym on a Saturday, I typically 'reward' myself for my awesome life choice by totally phoning it in (as Jillian would call it). I time it so that I get there right on the hour (any hour) so that a show will be starting on HGTV and then I just zone out on the elliptical until the show ends. No circuits. No weights. Mindless cardio and someone else's home renovation is what a Saturday workout is all about. And I would feel guilty except for it's gotta be better than no workout, right? Right. So.

Since there was not a single soul besides me in the ladies' fitness area, I finally had my long-awaited chance to take loads of (blurry) pictures and selfies. Since guys aren't allowed in the ladies' area, Matt has never seen it! He's had to imagine it based on my verbal description alone!! (There are lots of...umm...weight things...and like...ellipticals...and a line of these other thingies??) So now we've remedied that situation. Whew.

Due to the extremely unbearable heat and humidity all weekend, we only got in a few good hours in the yard. It was long enough, however, to plant a new raspberry plant. We've been loving our raspberries so much (we planted one in April), it seemed like the smart thing to do. Hopefully our raspberry yield will catch up with our blueberries and blackberries and then we will be the most antioxidantated (real word, promise) people on earth. 

And now it's back to work. And tearing through HP! Have a great Monday!

Friday, June 13, 2014

finally giving in

Well, the World Cup started yesterday. Which means that my soccer widowhood has started. Luckily, your many helpful suggestions made my plight much easier to deal with and Operation World Cup Survival is off to a...well, magical...start.

World Cup: Night 1
It seems I've run out of excuses. After seventeen years of not getting around to reading Harry Potter...I'm getting around to it.

It should keep me plenty busy for the next month. And I know I'm missing two books here. Don't worry, I'll find them and read it all in order.

My friends Catherine and Mollyanne have been relentlessly pestering encouraging me to read the books for years now. They even plot schemes about how to get me to read them. So when I finally picked up the books and committed to giving them a try, I had to send them this picture. I'm guessing they're busy patting themselves on the back and high fiving for another convert or something.

So far I am 125 pages in and so far, so good! I stayed up later than I'd planned because I got sucked in, so I guess that's a good sign.

In other reading news, I finally finished Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I'd listened to about 70% of it on the audiobook on road trips, but finally had to return the CDs and I just borrowed the book from the library to finish the story. Then I ended up starting back at the beginning of the book because I think I fell asleep a few times during the audiobook, so I wanted to be sure I got the whole story.

Here's the thing. If I hadn't started with the audiobook (and had just picked up the book as a BOOK or ebook)...I'm pretty sure I never would have finished. The author took some serious liberties with the writing/style/format of the book. L.I.B.E.R.T.I.E.S. It started out by feeling a little different, a little intriguing...and quickly devolved to being obnoxious and overkill. Weird for the sake of being weird. I liked the story enough (well, Oskar's story. The grandma/grandpa parallel story didn't do anything for me) to stick with it, hoping there would be a good payoff at the end. But really...there wasn't. I don't know. It just ended. One of those where you flip back and forth a few times, sure you missed a concluding chapter or epilogue or something...but no, it's just...done. Well, okay then.

So I'd give it maybe 3 stars. Or 2.5. But I also think that like 80% of people would be too annoyed by the weirdness of the written version to get more than a few chapters in.

Although I'm looking forward to blazing through the HP over the next month(s?) or so, I'm going to have to pause whenever my book for book club this month comes in. We're reading The Program and I'm looking forward to it...but as per usual, the library is taking its sweet time getting it to me. 

And that's about all. I finally beat Challenge 25 on 2048. I was stuck on it for like three days, so it was a triumphant moment. At my current trajectory, with each challenge taking longer and longer to beat...this could take me the rest of the year. But I'll press on because I am not a quitter, and I'm also not dumber than a phone game. So between my reading schedule and my 2048 schedule...whew, this is one busy summer! ;)

Have a great weekend!! 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

world cup game plan

Don't let the title fool you. I don't have a game plan just yet. But there are still 24 hours until the games start, so it's not too late yet.

In case you don't know, the World Cup starts tomorrow. If you are in the "this is news to me" camp, I can only assume you aren't married to Matt. (There are other clues that also lead me to believe you're not married to Matt, but this is a big one.) If you were married to Matt like I am, you would know. WORLD CUP!!! OH MY GOSH!!! EEEEKKKK!! WOOOOOO!!! 

Handsome husband, gorgeous hydrangeas. Hydrangeas courtesy of UGA...can't take credit for anything except admiring and appreciating them on a daily basis.
Matt has an excitement and passion about the World Cup that rivals my enthusiasm for Mexican food, nail polish, and reality TV...which is to say a lot. Unfortunately, soccer isn't one of our shared passions. This presents a problem for a month every fourth year, because what we do share is a single TV in our shared living room.

You can see the obvious issues here.

So now the time is upon us again and I'm finding that I neglected to remedy our soccer issues during the last four years (you know, by either becoming passionate about soccer myself, or convincing Matt to hate it). Clearly I'm going to need a survival game plan for the next month. I'm just not sure what it's going to be.

Here are some options:

1. Try to learn about soccer and get interested in it, which could possibly lead to actually enjoying the (endless) games on TV. This is extremely unlikely because it is a verified fact (9 out of 10 scientists agree!) that soccer is the most boring sport on earth. It is boring to play (all you do is run around) and it is boring to watch (all they do is run around). Since none of that has changed since the last time I tried to care about soccer, it's safe to say that I'm still going to find it boring this year.!

2. Try to convince Matt he doesn't want to watch. Unfortunately, he is already brainwashed beyond help into thinking that soccer is both fun to watch and play (I know, right?? So sad). But perhaps I can find something about the World Cup itself that will be appalling enough to keep him from supporting? Like...some egregious scandal...or something?? This is a stretch, but I'm keeping my ears open for anything that could horrify him into a boycott.

3. Buy another TV. This seems drastic and expensive. Plus, we don't have another room to put a TV in (the laundry room? Kitchen? Garage?) since we're anti-TV-in-the-bedrooms. Also, it's not so much that I have so many important things that I'd rather be watching...I can always watch Netflix on a laptop if I really want to. It's more like...I just get annoyed by hearing soccer on the TV and not having a husband to hang out with because HE is busy watching soccer. So another TV isn't really going to help with any of that.

4. Take up a new hobby for a month. Maybe if I had something fun and distracting to focus on during the evenings (I'm guessing he'll be DVRing the games since they come on at like 1 and 4 pm or something and he won't be able to watch them live), hearing soccer on the TV and having an absentee husband wouldn't be so annoying. But I can't really think of any hobbies I'm dying to take up. I guess I could start a book series or something? Hmmm...

5. Distraction. Maybe I can make myself so annoying amusing and distracting that Matt will just get fed up and cut off the TV? Like...tap dancing while using power tools in the garage. Or something. It would be really loud and I doubt Matt could really concentrate on the TV if he were preoccupied with how I'm probably breaking his power tools and/or chopping off my own limbs. Also, who wouldn't prefer watching me tap dance over seeing random guys run around after a ball on TV? Exactly.

Ugh. These are all the plans I've thought of so far and none of them are really speaking to me. I'm leaning towards some combination of #4 and #5. A distracting new hobby. I have one day to figure out what, so wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

men's fashion: no.

I don't touch on men's fashion here much, mainly because a) this is not a fashion blog, b) I am not a man, and c) don't nobody curr. Well, except for when I'm showcasing some of Matt's finest moments, of course. Everyone cares about that. But otherwise, not so much.

But this morning on NPR I heard about something that caused me to rush to a Google image search as soon as I got to work. And then I had to laugh and laugh. It looked pretty bad in my head, and looks just as bad on the J.Crew models.

The shorts suit. How about we all just agree NO on that one.

Image (and an amusing article) via Businessweek
Here's a thought. If a bunch of gorgeous, fashionable, trendy male models on J.Crew's website look like goofballs wearing something, it's safe to say that the average guy in your office or congregation is not going to look dapper wearing it

So in conclusion, let's all band together and make sure our menfolk continue sweating to death in regular old pants suits this summer. Just say no to shorts suits!

Monday, June 9, 2014

places with a view

 We had a rather fabulous weekend. We spent most of Saturday at a wedding where this was the view the whole time:

Sooo...I mean...I can't really complain about that.

I can complain about the heat, though. You can't see it in the picture, but holy crap it was hot. But whenever I got too uncomfortable, I'd just stare out over the vineyards, past the peach orchard, and into the mountains on the horizon...and everything was alright.

Also, the wedding programs turned into FANS! So that was awesome.

The wedding was for our friends Brian and Cristina. You may recall that Matt and I went on a harrowing rock climbing expedition with them. And yet we're still's a miracle. Good thing, too, because I would have hated to miss this wedding. In addition to the view, there were tons of gorgeous artistic touches by Cristina's sister (or maybe it was Brian's of their sisters is an artist).

This cake topper is probably the most amazing thing I've ever seen. It looks EXACTLY like them!! As you can possibly tell, rock climbing is their thing.

We had to take a pretty good hike through some orchards to get to the field where the ceremony was. I was extremely glad I'd thought to bring flats- the wedges got traded in basically as soon as we arrived, ha. After the ceremony (and subsequent hike back, during which I carried my friend's baby because she (the friend, not the baby) did not have flats and therefore was precariously teetering down the mountain path) there was an Italian ice truck waiting for us! It was the perfect refreshment on a blazing hot day and gave me the sugar I needed to fuel me through the pre-dinner dance party. The dancing was the BEST because they had a lady there to teach the dances. We did one traditional Jewish dance and then several contra dances- it was incredibly fun, and I was again very thankful for my flat sandals, ha. All in all it was an awesome day and perfect wedding. And now Brian and Cristina are traveling with their two hundred pounds of luggage (yes, they weighed it) to Lake Tahoe where they will (wait for it!!!) go rock climbing and kayaking (and some of that weight is their inflatable kayak, of course!). I swear. I feel like such a lazy bum around them.

Last night Matt decided he hadn't had quite enough stellar views for the weekend, so he went to the highest point he could find at home and just soaked it all in.

 Yeah, not really. Really he was trying to figure out why there are water spots appearing on the ceiling in the nursery. But my favorite thing about this was how concerned Aidan (the cat) was! Look at him!! Daaad? DAAAD? WHAT ARE YOU DOING UP THERE?! Bring me a bird!

Also, as I consider myself to be the Chief Evangelist of 2048, I need everyone to know that there if you've tired of the game (either because you beat it or because you haven't...) that there are now CHALLENGES that you can take on!

I learned about them a week or two ago. I had to update my app, and then they appeared. If you hit 'menu' and then swipe to the right, they're all there. There are FORTY-EIGHT of them, so...yep, there's my Summer Plan! So far I've completed through 17. So anyway...just when I thought I was getting my life back from 2048...there it goes again.

Happy Monday!

Friday, June 6, 2014

hashtags, dog fur, and grammar

Betcha forgot all about my ancient Q&A post and how I'm not even close to having answered all the questions yet, didn'tcha? Well, no worries. I didn't forget. It's been weighing heavily on my heart...the probing questions gone unanswered?!? How will everyone sleep at night?!?! Okay, not really. But it is nice to know that the spreadsheet o' questions is just sitting right there, waiting to help me out on a day of writer's block!

There probably won't be any particular theme to today's questions...we'll just see which way the wind blows.

Megan asked:

How do you feel about the use of hashtags? I started using them ironically as a way to embarrass my stepson / make fun of my students, but now they're kind of thing for me.

Well, be honest, I kinda hate the ironic use of hashtags. I think they had their moment, but it's in the past now. I don't mine the appropriate use of hashtags, though. When they serve the purpose that they were originally designed for-- they're perfectly fine. But only in moderation. For instance, I follow a number of beauty and makeup bloggers on Instagram (and they all have about a billion followers, so I seriously doubt they'll mind me calling them out here. Clearly they're doing just fine despite me rolling my eyes at them.). I don't know what it is, but beauty bloggers just looooooooove to use a freaking abundance of hashtags on every single picture. Some of them are what I would deem functional hashtags: the brand names of the makeup they're wearing (#urbandecay or #loracpropalette) or things like #eyeshadowtutorial (if they included a description/tutorial in their photo comment)...those are things that interested parties (like me!) will actually click on to see OTHER pictures that are in those categories. Very useful. But then the other 52 hashtags that are like #fridayfunday #pretty #eyes #beauty and so on and so forth? No. Just stop. No one's clicking on those to see what a billion other random people are saying about #eyes. Or at least I'm not. So therefore they shouldn't do it, because my opinion is the most important.

In summary:

Useful Hashtags that I Don't Roll My Eyes At: television show names, wedding (or other) events (SUPER helpful so that you can see lots of pictures from people that aren't necessarily your personal friends!), brand names, specific things that people care about and may legitimately want to search

Hashtags I Roll My Eyes At: pretty much any generic adjective (#lovely, #happy, #yummy), stupid things like #followme and #instawow, and the ubiquitous and waaaaaaaaay overused #soblessed. Please. No.

PS. If you happen to use the hashtags that I have deemed eye-roll-worthy and you like them, I encourage you to keep doing it without an ounce of guilt or worry. This is just my opinion, not the Word of God and Law of the Land...take it for what it's worth-- probably not much.


Tamara asked:

My question is do you have a hard time keeping a clean house with Lola? As an owner of two big black fur babies, I feel like it’s impossible to keep my house clean.

Well Tamara, the truth is, our live-in housekeeper is so efficient vacuuming up the fur, I hardly even notice it!! Oh wait. Sorry. That's in my fantasy world. In REAL LIFE...holy cow. My faux-wood floors are perpetually buried under a small mountain of black fur. Especially in the UGH. I wish I had great tips, but basically we just resign ourselves to vacuuming up the tumbleweeds of dog fur a couple times a week and tell ourselves that she's worth it. When it comes down to it, the benefits of having the Lola outweigh the benefits of having a perfectly clean house, so I try to remember that and just roll my eyes at the dog fur. And vacuum it up again. And again.

(There's a lot of eye rolling going on today, eh?)

PS. In the interest of uniting questions 1 and 2, I must add that Tamara introduced me to one of my FAVORITE instagram hashtags: #labsofinstagram. I will click that EVERY time because hello-- a constantly-updated string of adorable lab pictures? COME TO MAMA.


Amanda J. asked:

Dear Erika,

How do I correct the grammar of my loved ones without sounding like a huge jerk?

Judgmental Grammar Nazi

Alright. This is clearly something I deal with myself, so you came to the right place, Amanda. We're going to have to break this down into two Correcting Categories, though: Out Loud/Speaking Grammar and Written Grammar.

If you're chatting in person with someone and they display some heinous grammar (which honestly, happens much less frequently than in writing...most adult native American-English speakers do just fine speaking)...I would pretty much never correct it. I can't think of any way that it would NOT come off as incredibly obnoxious. I mean, unless they're asking hey, is it _____ or should I say _____? which case, of course, weigh in. But to just jump in with a tip about subject-verb agreement? Don't. I could think of exceptions, of course: if the person is a child (that you know well), a gentle re-stating of a sentence is probably fine. If the person is an English language learner that has previously asked or mentioned that they're wanting help with their spoken English, it could be appropriate. But basically...I never correct people's spoken grammar.

Obviously, intervention-requiring written grammar is much more common. But you're just as likely to look like a jerk if you don't tread lightly. I would pretty much never recommend directly calling out someone's error (the exception being if they are someone you know extremely well who you know would WANT to know about an error. People call out my mistakes and/or typos all the time and I 100% appreciate it. I want to know better and do better, so I never mind someone pointing out something erroneous). I feel a passive-aggressive approach can be quite effective when dealing with grammar mistakes. For instance, you can write a blog post on a very specific error, providing lots of right and wrong examples, and share it all over social media in hopes that the offending party(ies) will see it and read it. Now, what's probably more likely is that the only people who will think "oooh! A grammar blog post!! Let me click over here and read!!" are other grammar aficionados, so you're kinda just going to be preaching to the choir, but...still. It's worth a try. You could also do a similar (but shorter) tutorial right there in your Facebook status or whatever. If you are good friends with the offender AND they have a good sense of humor, you could try gently drawing attention to their mistake- I've seen (but not personally done) this before and it seemed to be effective and not too offensive:

(pretend this is a FB status): The Smith's are moving to California!!
Grammar Nazi comments: Who is the Smith? I am really going to miss him!! ;)
Original poster: Haha what? I never know what to do with apostrophes!! 
GN: I know, they're stupid. You can just say 'the Smiths.' You're not possessing anything in this sentence, so you don't need any apostrophes. We're really going to miss you guys though!!

That's probably a best case scenario. If I were someone just reading through that exchange, I probably wouldn't think the GN was being a jerk, especially if I knew that he and the original poster were good friends. In a perfect world, ol' Smith would then go and edit his status so as not to offend future readers.

At the end of the day, though, you just have to accept that there are two kinds of people in the world: People Who Care About Grammar and People Who Don't. The PWD aren't bad people. They're not trying to hurt and offend the PWCAG. And so if they manage to make it to the ripe old age of 70 and still don't know how to use apostrophes and commas but they do have a number of other redeeming qualities...just let it go. You can't save them all. But if they also incorrectly use hashtags, then you're really going to have to make a judgment call and intervene about ONE of those issues. I really can't let my eyes be accosted by bad grammar and unnecessary hashtags at the same time. It's too much

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

less wordy wednesday

I tried to go for wordless Wednesday, but wordless just doesn't work for me. But less words is almost possible.

Yesterday the photographer for Alyssa's wedding posted all of the pictures. Basically every single one of them is the most gorgeous picture I've ever seen. It's kind of overwhelming. But even more exciting- the way the photographer's online picture portfolio thingy is set up, you can easily (and legally!) share and/or download the pictures-- sans watermark, totally legit! I'm not sure how this works, but I love him for it and I regret times infinity the terms of my own wedding photographer (not the pictures themselves...just the lack of rights/accessibility to them).

In addition to the hundreds of amazing ceremony, reception, and bridal party shots, he got dozens of shots of us while we were getting ready. Since I was doing the makeup for the bridal party, this means he took tons of artistic shots of me playing makeup artist! Those have been SUPER fun for me to look at, for some reason. I've just never seen myself doing that, you know? It's not like Matt's snapping shot after artsy shot of me putting on my eyeliner in our bathroom every morning (but maybe he should?). So these pictures all made me really happy, so I thought I would share (more, as I already shared some on Facebook yesterday...sorry if you hate pictures of me doing makeup!).

Alyssa used Chris Guzzardo Photography and if you're a Georgia bride looking for a photographer, I recommend him times infinity. He was fabulous the day of, and the photos are amazing. I want to get married again (to Matt, of course) just so that he can be my photographer. For real.

Some of the arsenal

Caitlin, Alyssa's sister

It doesn't take much to make Alyssa gorgeous, but I used 47 products just to be safe.

Couldn't have done it without a few Naked palettes!

 And just a few of the 'afters'...